The final Bike Love story comes from Giacomo Panico – reporter, as well as interim producer and host of CBC Radio’s “In Town and Out.” It’s highly likely that you’ve seen him around Ottawa on his bike reporting the news! Thanks Giacomo for sharing your love of biking with us.
It saddens me now to think of how I treated my first real road bike. I was in my mid-teens and I had saved up to buy a Bianchi Sport SX at Pecco’s bike shop in the Byward Market. I cherished that bike, and though I rode it hard I also babied it in between rides.
Then I bought a car.
As I moved more and more into a life dependent on my car, my poor little Bianchi collected dust. A neighbour in my building even stole the brakes off my bike, and I never noticed until years later.
Then in my early 30s, as part of what I like to call a personal reawakening, I found my way back onto that old Bianchi. It all came back to me. The excitement of my own power being converted into speed. The simplicity of just jumping on a bike and breezing past traffic. The satisfaction and pride of maintaining my bike.
Soon enough, I was firmly gripped by a case of the bug they call “n+1”.
I still own a car, but it will never make me feel as good as riding a bike will. And while I still love my road bike (and now my cyclocross bike too), these days I’m preferring to ride bikes that are upright so that I can enjoy the surroundings a bit more.
So how do I, as a grown-up now, define my “Bike Love”? One word: immersibility.
What I love most about bikes is their ability for creating community immersibility. I don’t even know if that’s a legitimate term, but it should be. And the definition should include an image of a person riding a bicycle. I love how riding a bicycle allows me to experience a place and its vibe, rather than just pass through it.
Not long after my revived love for bikes took hold, my CBC Ottawa colleague Julie Ireton suggested our station buy a couple for reporters to use. I jumped at the chance to setup what we would go on to call our Mics on Bikes.
The CBC bikes allow me to get to a story in the downtown faster than any other way; I can avoid heavy traffic and road closures, and I can easily ride with all my gear into parks and onto pathways. I’ve also found that strangers are more receptive when a reporter on a bike starts asking them questions. They have questions of their own.
By far my favourite CBC bike moment was during Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, 2017, when we broadcast two hours of live radio while riding our bikes along Confederation Boulevard, stopping to interview folks along the way. It may have rained, but we were on bikes, immersing ourselves.
— Giacomo Panico
Read more from our Bike Love Series!